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CT politicians react to Trump indictment

Donald Trump speaks at Trump Tower in New York on April 26, 2016 after winning primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Standing at left behind Trump is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump speaks at Trump Tower in New York on April 26, 2016, after winning primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Standing at left behind Trump is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.

The charges center on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. They mark an extraordinary development after years of investigations into Trump’s business, political and personal dealings.

Connecticut politicians shared their reactions following the news of the indictment.

"A grand jury has indicted Donald Trump after an intensive investigation lasting many months," Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Friday in Hartford. "That grand jury is composed of everyday Americans who have heard abundant evidence. Now the charges will be determined by the legal process."

Trump will be arraigned Tuesday, court officials said, his formal surrender and arrest presenting a historic, shocking scene of a former U.S. commander in chief forced to stand before a judge.

Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly assailed the investigation, called the indictment “political persecution” and predicted it would damage Democrats in 2024.

Connecticut House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said in a statement Friday that "partisan politics" surround the indictment "and regardless of how you feel about our former president, all Americans should be concerned."

The leading voice of the Connecticut Republican Party was also critical of the indictment.

"The unprecedented indictment of former President Donald J. Trump is a troubling harbinger, opening a new frontier in the weaponization of government and political persecution by the Far-Left," Ben Proto, chairman of the state Republican Party, said in a statement.

The indictment itself has remained sealed, as is standard in New York before an arraignment.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said the former president is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and that it is not the job of politicians "to take sides in a criminal matter."

"We haven't even seen the charges yet," Murphy said Friday. "So I think it's pretty incredible that some of my colleagues believe they're clairvoyant and they can judge the president's innocence before they've even seen what the charges are."

State Democratic leaders said Thursday night they were "not surprised" to learn about the indictment.

“We will be following the facts of the case closely and hope justice will be served,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said in a statement.

In a statement confirming the charges, Trump defense lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said the former president “did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”

No ex-president has ever been charged with a crime before, so there's no rulebook for booking one. Trump has Secret Service protection, so agents would need to be by his side at all times.

Indeed, Trump was asked to surrender Friday, but his lawyers said the Secret Service needed more time to make security preparations, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

This story has been updated. Connecticut Public Radio's Chris Polansky, Patrick Skahill, Eric Aasen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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